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Houndstongue (State designated weed)

Houndstongue was introduced to the U.S. from Europe and is now an invader found in pastures, meadows, along roadsides and in disturbed habitats.

Growth Habit: Biennial; grows as a rosette the first year, then develops a flowering stalk with sticky nutlets the second year.

Leaves: Alternate, 1 to 12 inches long, 1 to 3 inches wide, rough, hairy, resembling a hound’s tongue.

Flowers: Crowded, purplish buds that develop into red, purple or whitish flowers of five petals that hang downward. Upon maturity, buds develop into flattened bur-like nutlets that can attach to the hair and fur of animals (or to human clothing, pets and gear) and are easily transported.

Root: Taproot.

Other: Houndstongue is toxic, containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, causing liver cells to stop reproducing. Animals may survive for six months or longer after they have consumed a lethal amount. Sheep are more resistant to houndstongue poisoning than are cattle or horses. Horses may be especially effected when confined in a small area infested with houndstongue and lacking desirable forage.

Status: State Designated Noxious Weed, Category 2 Fremont County. Localized, no tolerance of new infestations and aggressive control on all known infestations.

Control: Digging up rosettes, and clipping and bagging mature plants, can be an effective mechanical control. Herbicides are effective on first-year rosettes. FCWP offers a 40 percent Cost Share on chemicals for controlling this species. Contact your local weed and pest office for treatment further recommendations.

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K. George Beck & James Sebastian, CSU, Bugwood.org